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International Champions Cup an opportunity for young players
Preseason friendly puts spotlight on youth
 
Published Thursday, July 18, 2019 6:44 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

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The International Champions Cup is an opportunity for young players like Arsenal's Joe Willock to make a statement for playing on the first team.

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International Champions Cup is an opportunity for young players to make their case for the first team.

As preseason tournaments go, managers have time to experiment before the regular season. Arsenal is no exception. The London club’s second season under Unai Emery begins on Aug. 11 against Newcastle. The next stop on their seven-match preseason tour is Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte against Italian side Fiorentina on July 20 at 6 p.m. They beat the Colorado Rapids 3-0 to kick off preseason on July 15 and beat Bayern Munich in Los Angeles on July 17. Academy products like midfielders Joe Willock and Eddie Nkeitah have impressed thus far. Nketiah came on in the 81st minute against Bayern and scored the winner in the 88th minute.

“Right now we have a lot of young players, especially yesterday, Joe Willock played with us, and he really showed his quality,” said veteran midfielder Mesut Ozil. “Eddie scored, and everyone knows Eddie in the team. He’s working hard. He wants to help us. Those kinds of players, especially young players, will help us a lot. Don’t forget Emile [Smith Rowe]. He’s been injured. If he is coming back, we know his quality as well. At Arsenal, I think we are lucky to have those young players.”

Smith Rowe—a midfielder—arrived in Germany from Arsenal with a groin injury, which he sustained in December. He joined Bundesliga side RB Leipzig, cultivating a friendship with USMNT midfielder and former New York Red Bulls MLS All-Star Tyler Adams.

Incorporating the next generation is a process for Emery.

“This moment is good to see them training with us, in the huddle with us, [in] the matches with us,” Emery said. “We are going to do the process with the progress. Arsenal in the history, in the present, and in the future needs young players with good spirit, good skills, good capacity to play and to get [into] the first team regularly.”

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